|Bruins-Canucks Game 4 preview: 4 keys, stats and players to watch||06.08.11 at 2:20 am ET|
The Bruins, coming off an 8-1 win over the Canucks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, have a chance to tie the series up Wednesday in Boston. Thus far in the playoffs, the Bruins have followed up their first win of a series with another one the next day. Here is a preview of Game 4:
FOUR THINGS THE BRUINS NEED TO DO
- Figure out life after Nathan Horton, and fast: At the very least, David Krejci and Milan Lucic will be playing with someone they haven’t played with much this season, so they’ll need to click fast. Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley seem to be the best options.
- Beat them physically, but watch out: The refs are going to be on extra lookout for extra curricular stuff. The Canucks might want to entice the Bruins, but the B’s have to keep in mind that the other guys aren’t interested in fighting as much as they are in drawing penalties. As for the finger stuff, there probably aren’t many players who want to be the one that ends up costing his team a goal because he stuck his fingers in another players’ mouth.
- Keep the pedal to the metal on the power play: The Bruins have now scored power play goals in back-to-back games for just he second time this postseason. The other time occurred in Games 3 and 4 of the conference semifinals vs. the Flyers.
- Treat it as a must-win: The Bruins can either tie the series or end up going to Vancouver down three games to one. It would be hard to imagine the B’s overcoming such a deficit, so the level of desperation has to be high on Wednesday night.
- The Canucks outshot the Bruins, 41-38, in Game 3. The B’s are now 10-4 in games in which they’ve been outshot. They had a 6-0 mark in such games through the first two rounds, and have gone 4-4 when being outshot the last two rounds.
- Tim Thomas allowed five goals in the team’s Game 6 loss to the Lightning. Since then, he’s allowed five goals over four games.
- Former Boston College and Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts has had a negative rating in four of the five games he’s played this postseason. The 16:28 he played in Game 3 made for a postseason high. Part of that is a result of the team having five defensemen for all but five minutes of the game.
- Chris Kelly’s goal in Game 3 was his first since removing the full cage from his helmet. Kelly had four goals while wearing the cage, but had gone 11 straight games without a goal, nine of which were cageless. Now, the curse of the cageless Kelly can be laid to rest.
FOUR PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
- Tyler Seguin: The rookie hasn’t registered a point since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, and he hasn’t played particularly well since Game 3 of that series. Now his scoring ability is more of a need for the Bruins than a luxury with Horton out.
- Roberto Luongo: Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault didn’t want to pull Luongo, and Luongo didn’t want his coach to pull him on a night in which the floodgates opened wide. Now it’s a matter of how he bounces back. There’s no history to guide this one, as he had never allowed eight goals before, and the only time in which he allowed seven was Game 6 against the Blackhawks last year in the second round, a contest in which Vancouver was eliminated.
- Henrik and Daniel Sedin: It has to have dawned on the Sedin twins that they haven’t been their dominant selves this series. Aside from a two-point performance in Game 2 from Daniel, the Sedin twins have been kept off the scoring sheet. Daniel has an even rating this series, while Henrik has only a minus-1 rating and a big hit from Thomas in Game 3 to show for himself.
|Report: Further finger-work will be penalized||06.07.11 at 4:11 pm ET|
According to a report from ESPN.com, NHL vice president Mike Murphy has told both the Bruins and Canucks that from Game 4 onward, any player waving their fingers or putting their fingers in the mouths of other players will recieve a two-minute penalty and 10-minute misconduct.
Players have taken to the aformentioned actions in wake of Alexandre Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins’ center was facewashing the Canucks’ winger when Burrows bit his finger, and since players have gestured to one another with their fingers. Defenseman Adam McQuaid got in Burrows’ face in Game 2 and asked “are you going to bite me?” and Maxim Lapierre, Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi have since waved their fingers at other players.
Milan Lucic has been the man of the hour throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs, as he hails from Vancouver and plays for the Bruins. He had plenty of family in attendance for the first two games of the series at Rogers Arena, but when asked Tuesday to address the rowdiness of Boston fans, noted that his family had a tough time in Vancouver.
A Vancouver reporter asked Lucic about the way Boston fans treat out-of-towners, saying that Vancouver natives had phoned his station saying they were verbally abused, among other things, by Bostonians after Game 3.
“It’s funny they say that,” a suddenly fired-up Lucic began, “because I remember after Game 1, people in Vancouver throwing popcorn and peanuts at my grandparents. That’s almost as low as it gets as that goes. They’re my grandparents. They’re in their sixties. If there is anyone you should show respect to, it’s them.
“Also, my uncle and his uncle, [fans] were pouring beers on their seats in Vancouver. There’s no difference between the two cities. I said it before the series started: they’re two really passionate [fanbases], they’re really into their teams, and there’s nothing more that Boston fans want than for us to win and there’s nothing more than Vancouver wants than for their team to win.”
NHL vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy met with the media Tuesday at Walter Brown Arena to discuss the league’s disciplinary actions in the Stanley Cup finals. Murphy suspended Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome for four games due to a late hit that ended Nathan Horton‘s series, something he viewed as a bad situation for the game given that the finals lost two players.
While Murphy’s decision on Rome has been well-received by people throughout the game, the league has been under heat since electing to not suspend Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows for biting Patrice Bergeron in Game 1. Since then, Burrows factored into all three Canucks’ goals in a Vancouver win in Game 2, while players from both teams have waved their fingers at one another and stuck their fingers in one another’s mouths, mocking the play on which Bergeron cut his finger and had to receive a tetanus shot.
Murphy said Tuesday that his intention is for such actions, for which Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic were criticized by Claude Julien, to stop.
“We made the right decision on Alex Burrows,” Murphy said. “We spoke with Alex, but I’m not here to speak about that. I dealt with that. We’ve moved on past that.
“We will deal with the issues of the series, the choppiness that’s gone on. [Senior vice president of hockey operations] Kris King is in charge of the series. We’ve addressed it. We’ve addressed it with the teams as early as this morning. I will be speaking with both general managers and coaches before the day is over about the crap that we’re seeing and the garbage that’s going on and some of the issues.”
|Nathan Horton done for playoffs with severe concussion||at 10:25 am ET|
The Bruins announced Tuesday morning that first-line right wing Nathan Horton is out for the remainder of the Stanley Cup finals due to a severe concussion. Horton left Monday’s 8-1 Bruins’ Game 3 win in the first period on a stretcher after taking a blindside hit to the head from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome.
Horton had 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 21 postseason games prior to the hit, though he did not have a point in the Stanley Cup finals. He totaled 26 goals and 27 assists for 53 points in the regular season.
With Horton out, the Bruins will likely turn to Michael Ryder on the first line, with Tyler Seguin re-entering the lineup on the team’s third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.
Almost as big a story as the game itself is Aaron Rome‘s first-period hit on Nathan Horton. After Horton dished a pass off to Milan Lucic, Rome stepped up and landed a late hit to the head that left Horton lying motionless on the ice for several minutes before being carried off on a stretcher.
After the game, players and coaches on both sides agreed that the primary concern was for Horton’s well-being. What they didn’t agree on, however, was how dirty or clean the hit actually was.
“I think what I would call it is it was a blindside hit that we’ve talked about taking out of the game,” Claude Julien said. “[Horton] made the pass. It was late. [Rome] came from the blindside. Whether it’s through the motion of the hit, it appeared he left his feet a little bit.”
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault disagreed with the assessment that it was the kind of hit the NHL is trying to get rid of.
“That hit was a head-on hit,” Vigneault said. “[Horton] was looking at his pass. It was a little bit late, but I don’t think that’s the type of hit that the league’s trying to take out.”
On replay, it appears that Horton was following the play more than anything — something any player would do while entering the zone on an offensive rush. Vigneault also conveniently ignored the fact that it was a hit to the head, regardless of what Horton was looking at. He wasn’t the only one in the Vancouver dressing room to defend the hit, though.
“I thought it was a very clean hit,” center Manny Malhotra said. “The timing was maybe a fraction off, but all in all, you see those hits on a daily basis.”
Malhotra’s assessment seems even more misguided than his coach’s. If it was “very clean,” Rome wouldn’t have been ejected from the game and he wouldn’t have a disciplinary hearing with the NHL Tuesday morning. And Malhotra must be playing in a different league than everyone else if he sees hits like that every day.
No one on the Bruins called Rome a dirty player, but they did say it was a bad hit.
“I played with him and from what I know of him, he is an honest player,” Shawn Thornton said. “But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it was a lateral hit to the head, and that’s what that rule was set into place for as far as I’m concerned.
“Aaron Rome is a good person. I played with him. We played together in Portland [Maine] and Anaheim. I’m not saying he’s a bad person. I’m just saying those are the hits – as players – we have to take out of the game.”
Whether or not NHL disciplinarian Mike Murphy decides to take Rome out of Game 4 and perhaps beyond remains to be seen. The Bruins didn’t directly say they think Rome should be suspended, but they certainly hinted at it by saying it’s the type of hit the league is trying to eliminate.
“I’ll say what I always say: let the league take care of it,” Julien said. “We’re trying to clean that out. Let’s see where they go with that.”
In one of the more physical, tense and nasty Stanley Cup final games in recent memory, the Bruins hammered the Canucks, 8-1, Monday night in Game 3 and now trail Vancouver, 2 games-to-1.
The physical play began with a shot to the head of Nathan Horton by Aaron Rome just over five minutes into the contest. Horton left on a stretcher after his neck was immobilized. He reported having feeling in all extremities and was taken to Massachusetts General for observation. The nastiness reached a new level in the third when Shawn Thornton was ejected via a 10-minute misconduct while three more Bruins followed. Rome was ejected along with three other Canucks in the third, as the Bruins poured it on with four goals in the second and four in the third.
“We had a good game but we were really looking to send a message and we wanted to get back in the series,” Brad Marchand said. “They had a pretty commanding lead there. We knew it was going to be a big game tonight and we were just hoping to get back in the series.
“Any playoff series it’s a battle out there. We’re fighting for something we wanted our whole lives. It’s going to be a battle every game. It’s going to look like that. I think it’s just going to get chippier as series goes on.”
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